Localised operation of passenger services under the Railways Act


Brian Eaton

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail


Britain's railways were nationalised in 1948 under a philosophy of public service subsidised by the state. The rail network shrank significantly during the 1960's, in common with other countries. In the 1970's, British Rail was perceived as an inefficient and expensive operator, requiting increasing subsidy and increasing fares at the same time as losing market share and passengers. This situation was improved to a point in the 1980's with a reorganisation which introduced business units and increased passenger miles. By the early 1990's, the Conservative government regarded further development as being possible under private ownership and legislated accordingly. Under the 1993 Railways Act, many former British Rail activities have been sold off, Railtrack ple has been floated and franchises for passenger services in the United Kingdom have been awarded for many areas and routes. Highly localised management of passenger railways may be a solution to the problem of local (and often rural) lines, which carry a high ratio of subsidy to operating income. Local management is regarded as possible by way of subcontracting from fianchisees and by bidding successfully for a small group of routes, called a micro franchise. Potential private and public sector operators at this more local level are identified. Management could be more responsive to the demands of local populations and other users to improve financial performance, both in the shorter and longer term.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.